Reaching your training goals doesn’t have to be complicated. You don’t need to dedicate hours to the squat rack or suffer endless reps on the weights bench. Heck, you don’t even need a gym membership. All you need to achieve the body you’ve been dreaming of is, well, your body.
We’re serious. After all, as a major study published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise found, a 45-minute body weight workout increases your metabolic rate for an entire 45 hours. Plus, body weight exercises tend to target upper and lower-body muscles, according to the National Strength & Conditioning Association.
– Set up with your weight supported on your toes and hands beneath your shoulders, body straight.
– Take care to keep your core locked so a straight line forms between your head, glutes and heels.
– Lower your body until your chest is an inch from the ground then explosively drive up by fully extending your arms.
Pressed for time? Perform 20 reps of this classic blubber-burner. This age-old exercise activates every muscle in your body when performed correctly. And how do you get it right? “Just ensure your hands are an equal distance apart and directly underneath your shoulders. Squeeze your glutes and abs too. That’ll create body tension to maximize efficiency during the execution of the exercise.”
2. Step-up with knee raises
– Place a bench or a box in front of you and step onto it with one foot.
– As you plant your foot, drive with your other foot bringing your knee up as high as you can. Lower it back down and step back onto the floor.
– Repeat on the other side.
Whether you’ve noticed a slight muscle imbalance in your pins or you’re simply trying to carve some serious lower-body strength, stop fretting: this is the move for you.
Unilateral (single leg) training can help strengthen stabilizing muscles and can be used to even out imbalances. Your left side weaker than your right? Give it a leg up by dedicating an extra 15 reps to your frailer pin.
– Start the exercise in a press-up position.
– Jump forward so both legs land next to your hands.
– Return to starting position.
Horrible name, brilliant warm-up exercise. Opening up your hips and thoracic region massively increases your body’s range of movement (the distance the muscle extends and contracts during an exercise). So what? Well, perform these exercises through a larger ROM and you’ll garner 10% extra muscle growth from your next workout, according to The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.
But that’s not all. This dynamic stretch also pumps blood to almost all the muscles in your lower-body, drastically decreasing your risk of injury from overstrain while upping your heart rate for the next muscle-building moves.
4. Spider crawl
– From a press-up position, raise one foot off the floor and bring your knee up towards your elbow.
– Pause then return to the starting position and repeat on the other side.
– Make sure to crunch your core at the top of the rep to bring your knee even closer to your elbow and get more out of your abs.
Want to sculpt a superhero physique? This primitive movement crushes your core while also targeting your legs, arms, chest and shoulders (yup, all at once).
5. Standing Long Jump
– Lower yourself into a squat position with your feet shoulder-width apart.
– Swing your arms back and use them to propel yourself forward.
– Bring your legs forward for additional momentum.
– Jump as far as you can and land on the soles of your feet.
Want more mass combined with true explosive strength? Deploy the standing long jump. Your reason: this move targets your body’s all-important fast-twitch muscle fibers.
– Start with your feet shoulder-width apart and squat down until your thighs are parallel to the floor.
– From the bottom of the squat, place your hands on the floor and kick your legs out behind you into a press-up position.
– Push up until your arms are straight and then tuck in your legs at the bottom of the squat position.
– Drive upwards through your heels until you are six inches off the floor and then repeat.
By activating muscles almost everywhere on your body, this burpee variation will give you a massive calorie burn due to the enormous effort required. They don’t have that name for nothing, you know.
Not sure when to try this body weight goliath? Try throwing it in between strength sets or part of a basic body weight circuit. Just know that wherever you fit them in, they’re still not going to get any easier.
7. Handstand wall walk
– Position yourself in a handstand position with your feet planted against a wall.
– Move your hands forward and walk down the wall until you reach the bottom.
Can you perform 40 press-ups without breaking? The handstand walk will challenge your entire posterior and anterior chain [your back muscles]. That’s why they’re one of the best body weight moves on the planet.
But there’s one question you should ask before attempting this Insta-friendly exercise: what’s the best way to do it without landing on your head? Answer: Squeeze your abs and glutes so you are maintaining a straight line during the handstand.
8. Wide-grip pull-ups
– Grab the bar with your palms facing away from you and your arms fully extended.
– Your hands should be as wide as you can comfortably get them.
– Squeeze your shoulder blades together, exhale and drive your elbows towards your hips to bring your chin above the bar.
– Lower under control back to the start position.
Sure, normal pull-ups are great back-builders. So why not bring your shoulders into the equation too? Wide-grip pulls-ups are the perfect lat attacker, ramping up the effort needed for every rep compared to your normal pull-up.
And there’s a simple secret to getting the most from this move: form. Keep tension in your glutes throughout the move to keep your body straight and muscles injury-free. It’s easy squeezy.
9. Frozen V-sit
– Lie down on your back with your arms and legs outstretched and your hands and feet lifted just above the floor.
– Begin the exercise by simultaneously raising your torso and legs up to touch your feet.
– Hold for five to 10 seconds.
Searching for your six-pack? Abdominal exercises should not be rushed; you need to perform them with control to maximize the strength benefits. And if you want to activate more of your core’s muscle under even more tension then you should trade in crunches for V-sits.
Make sure your shoulder blades don’t roll forwards. This will keep your back straight and help you get the most out of the exercise.
10. Single leg glute bridge
– Lie on your back with one leg raised in the air.
– Thrust forward and raise your hips off the ground as high as you can.
– Slowly lower yourself to the floor.
– Clench your glutes at the top of the rep to activate more muscle fibres and see greater growth.
As well as shredding your legs, the single leg glute bridges will challenge your entire posterior chain (your backside muscles). And why should a butt-building muscle move make its way into your next workout? Building strength on your behind improves your posture, relieving any prolonged back pain. Lesson learnt: if you’re feeling sore after your 9-5 then beat away back pain with 10 reps of this move.
And if you’re aiming for a larger lower-body then make sure to perform this exercise with complete control, squeezing your working glute at the top of each repetition as hard as possible. Once you’ve managed that you can challenge yourself further by placing a barbell across your hips.